Today in Texas History – January 12

From the Annals of the Vigilantes – In 1874, a vigilante gang hanged a suspected horse thief in Denton.  After the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad reached the Red River, there was an increase in crime and general lawlessness with the introduction of outsiders.   Such actions were not uncommon in post-war Texas, especially where local courts and law enforcement were either in the formative stages, undependable or non-existent. So-called “vigilance committees” formed to mete out their own form of justice in an effort to deter crime and punish desperadoes.  It was rough justice at best and sometimes degenerated into mob rule or the instrument for settling personal vendettas.  The historical record of their activities is typically limited to newspaper accounts which may be of dubious accuracy.

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